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The Principia was such a difficult work that Newton, who apparently wanted it to be inscrutable to all but a few savants, advised the general reader to skip nearly all of Books I and II. (Unfortunately for the reader, this advice is proffered at the beginning of Book III.)

Toni Vogel Carey in Philosophy Now.  (Thanks a lot, Newton, you scamp.)


Friend Him: Isaac Newton is now Online

The University of Cambridge has  begun the process of posting its Sir Isaac Newton collection online. The digital library includes his college notebooks to later sketches, musings and drawings from his work on gravity, mathematics and optics.

Via the University of Cambridge:

The project aims to make Cambridge a digital library for the world and will move on from Newton to some of the University Library’s other world-class collections in the realms of science and faith. These include the archive of the celebrated Board of Longitude and the papers of Charles Darwin…

…Launching the website with more than 4,000 pages of its most important Newton material, the University Library will upload thousands of further pages over the next few months until almost all of its Newton collection is available to view and download anywhere in the world…

…In opening up Newton’s papers to the eyes of the world, the newly digitised archive reveals that not all his peers would have approved of his output being shared quite so openly.

Several of the manuscripts in the collection contain the handwritten line ‘not fit to be printed’, scrawled by Thomas Pellet, a Fellow of the Royal Society, who had been asked to go through Newton’s papers after his death and decide which ones should be published.

Of course, if Newton and Pellet knew then what we know now, nothing created quite remains private.

Cambridge Digital Library | Flickr


These papers are so beautiful.  Will anyone ever generate papers this beautiful again?  Or will the geniuses of our time leave behind a collection of late-night text messages, Excel spreadsheets, and drawings done on paper napkins ringed with Bud Light?

(Sorry. End of rant. Look at the papers, they are truly extremely cool.)